As infotainment and telematics systems develop, they've become signatures for car brands. OnStar is just as synonymous with GM as the legendary small-block Chevy engine, and many car buyers looking at a new Mustang are just as concerned with Sync as they are with wheel and tire combinations.
Though every manufacturer approaches connectivity differently, each setup has its own strengths and weaknesses. Our car buying guide can help you choose among all the systems out there.
As Honda's premium brand, Acura's navigation system layout is very similar to Honda's i-MID display, which we reviewed on the 2013 Accord. The latest iteration of Acura's navigation and infotainment system, called AcuraLink, will debut on the 2014 Acura RLX sedan and will include the option of a live concierge in addition to smartphone connectivity. Read More.
Like many infotainment systems from German manufacturers, Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) uses a center console-mounted clickwheel to control a centrally installed color screen. One of its most interesting features is its ability to pull Google Earth images from a smartphone's data connection, and display them in real time. That way, the MMI screen can overlay turn-by-turn navigation over an actual satellite image. Read More.
When BMW debuted iDrive in 2001, it was the first time a single controller and screen supplanted a dashboard full of buttons and knobs. After some growing pains, it's emerged as one of the best in-car user interfaces currently on the market. We tested iDrive with ConnectedDrive and BMW Apps in a 2013 BMW X1 and came away impressed. Read More.
Chevrolet's MyLink is one of the most innovative systems we've seen in recent years. Where most navigation systems rely on a hard drive or DVD for map information and a separate GPS for guidance, MyLink's in-dash touchscreen relies on a driver's smartphone for navigation. As such, it's available on the Sonic, which starts under $15,000.
Of course, since Chevrolet is part of the GM stable, all cars feature an OnStar button that links to a real, live human being for turn-by-turn directions and emergency services. Whether that button is activated depends on whether you want to pay a monthly or yearly fee, however. Read More.